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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Lady Eve [DVD] [1941]
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 17 November 2005
I like all of Preston Sturges' films, but this one I love - it is nearly perfect - one of those rare films that affect you long after you have watched it. Anyone who thinks old films are stilted, naive or wet should watch The Lady Eve, there is cynicism, and sophisticated and ribald dialogue you still wouldn't want a child to fully understand. To adapt a line from the film, it has a wonderful way of building up romance then bouncing it down again with wit. Having said that, it is still terribly romantic.

It is impossible not to fall for Barbara Stanwyck's character and at no point, despite being opposites, do the leads feel mismatched in any way. Both of their early screen personas were used by Sturges; Fonda's stiffness to convey a touching innocence and Stanwyck's tough yet vulnerable worldliness to rough him up.

A quick word about slapstick, which forms a part of almost all of Sturges' films, I'm not incredibly fond of it and quite often it can be a little tiresome and contrived for modern audiences, as anyone who has had to fast-forward through Rex Harrison's interminable solo scene in Unfaithfully Yours can attest, but here, though it is very important to the plot, it is limited and every instance fits naturally into the scene with perfect timing and, like the rest of the film, is still very, very funny.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
This box set contains some of the greatest Barbara Stanwyck films in great DVD prints: among them are The Lady Eve (a comedic masterpiece and one of my favorite films), Double Indemnity (a noirish masterpiece, of course) and All I Desire (an early Douglas Sirk melodrama, IMO very good). Truly a must for any fan of Miss Stanwyck or the golden era of Hollywood in general.

My only complaint is the lack of the special features: the only one is a trailer for The Lady Eve. The set also contains a nicely done booklet on Barbara Stanwyck, complete with pictures, biography and filmography, and is packed in a beautiful cardboard box - I love it. Each film is packed in its own DVD box, and The Lady Eve and Double Indemnity also contain their own information-packed booklets.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
------------------A LEGEND COMES TO LIFE IN A BOX ---------------------

Barbara Stanwyck was a true screen legend in life and death and her glory is embossed in this gorgeous packing with a box that is a delight ,and add the booklet on her biography and illustrious career in 16 glossy pages and you are in heaven .

The six dvds are all in great form with no extras but they are an art treasure -

LADY EVE -preston sturges directs her with henry fonda abroad a luxury cruiser in a screwball comedy as a con woman .

DOUBLE INDEMNITY -Billy Wilder has made a quint-essential film noir with fred Mc murray and her in a tale of treachery .

MIRACLE WOMAN -frank Capra directs her as an evangelist false messiah and she superbly suffering in her own deception .

GOLDEN BOY-she plays the woman behind a boxer on the rise played by Adelphe menjou in a sports drama.

ALL I DESIRE-Douglas Sirk makes a unique family drama where a runaway wife and mother reunites with her family .

THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN -Capra again directs her in war torn China involved in a forbidden love story with a local warlord .

now you cannot quite go wrong with six golden classics from the golden age of hollywood with this gorgeous woman in raging glory ,in divine diversity from war epics to comic antics and religious frenzy ,not to mention a femme fatale .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fresh from his Amazonian based jungle adventures, wealthy Charles Pike {Henry Fonda} is ripe for some female company, you would think? However, as he sets off home for New York aboard a luxury liner, Charles is oblivious to the attentions of all the women on board, with one exception, con-woman Jean Harrington {Barbara Stanwyck}. Who, aided by her card-sharp father, set about fleecing Pike of some serious cash. Until that is, Jean starts to fall for Charles and a turn of events will see The Lady Eve Sidwich put in an appearance.

The Lady Eve is one of Preston Sturges' best romantic comedies. Dripping with sly asides at the snobbish and fusing slap-stick with its gender inversion satire, "Eve's" ending may never be in doubt, but the journey getting there is an unadulterated joy. Flawless direction from Sturges and cracking performances from the leads, most notably Stanwyck who cements her standing as one of the finest comedienne's of her generation, "Eve" continues to this day to be a darling of critics and fans alike. Back in 1994 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, the reasons correctly cited as being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.

Co-written by Sturges and Monckton Hoffe, the story is a loose reworking of a Hoffe story titled "Two Bad Hats" (also the original title for "Eve" the movie). A number of casting changes and rewrites to appease the Hays Office Censors occurred, but in the end it all worked out rather well, with the set apparently a fun and easy one to be on. It's something that shows thru in the best of Sturges' film's, that his cast are relaxed and knowing they are working for one of the sharpest and in tune writers of 1940s cinema. With Stanwyck baring midriff and sexy legs, and Fonda pratfalling for all his worth, The Lady Eve is simply a must see in classic cinema terms. But as is the way with the best of Sturges, you need to see thru the froth and sample the cunning that he was want to deliver, because only then you come to understand why critics and some big hitting directors have lauded him for the brilliant work that he did. 9/10
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2004
Barbara Stanwyck is at her comedic best in "The Lady Eve," playing a vamp who tries to con a gullible heir, played by Henry Fonda. Her plans hit a snag, though, when she finds herself falling for him, which leads to some madcap fun. Directed and co-written by the peerless Preston Sturges ("Sullivan's Travels"), "The Lady Eve" is among the finest of Hollywood 1940's romantic comedies. The script is quite brilliant (the movie received only one Oscar nomination, for its screenplay, which it lost to "Here Comes Mr. Jordan") and delivers some genuine laughs. In addition, the tinge of bitterness and cynicism that characterizes Sturges' work is here -- this movie isn't a sickly sweet romance. Sturges also manages to create a wacky screen couple and then make them seem believable; a formidable task. Finally, Fonda has never been better; his all-American looks and blank visage are put to perfect use to convey the innocence required for the role. Overall, a highly recommended film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Perfect screwball with romantic charm as dozy Henry Fonda and luscious Barbara Stanwyck get it together amongst the reptiles (and brilliant old turtle Charles Coburn). A film of two halves doing the same thing twice almost, it's just so much more fun that way. It's often seen as Sturges's best now; a debate worth having if only to relive all the great bits of the great films. You could dress it up in terms of sexual politics, and the seduction scene in Fonda's cabin is eye-popping for the time (how did those innuendoes get by the censor?), but best just (like they say in Sullivan's Travels)have a laugh. One to watch again and again as you'll not take in all the jokes first time.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 July 2012
Preston Sturges' 1941 comedy The Lady Eve is, for me, something of a mixed bag, but at its best provides some hilarious moments and a stream of great one-liners, courtesy of Sturges' own script, which itself was based on Monckton Hoffe's Academy Award-nominated original story. As with all such Hollywood screwball comedies, one has to suspend disbelief at some of the fantastic twists and turns of the film's plot, but, in fact, it is just these whimsical elements that make films like The Lady Eve such a joy to watch.

The film contains a number of top acting performances. Starring Barbara Stanwyck in one of her funniest screen roles as the con artist and card-sharp Jean Harrington, and Henry Fonda, superb playing the deadpan, (apparently) straight man Charles 'Hopsy' Pike, heir to a giant brewing empire, whom Stanwyck 'ambushes' on board an ocean going liner, with a view to conning him out of his millions, the film is a mix of brilliant satirical dialogue (laden with sexual innuendo - 'What was it like up the Amazon?') and slapstick comedy. In fact, for me, the film is at its strongest during its first hour (set on board the liner) - the final half-hour descends rather too much for my taste into more predictable slapstick routines which, whilst funny in moderation, should perhaps be left to Messrs' Laurel, Hardy and Marx. In addition to Stanwyck and Fonda, their respective fathers, namely Charles Coburn as Jean's co-con artist Colonel (Harry) Harrington and Eugene Palette as the blustering Horace Pike, are also outstanding. Similarly, Sturges-regular William Demarest puts in a great turn (full of killer one-liners) as Hopsy's gangster-like accomplice, Muggsy (Ambrose Murgatroyd).

As with all Sturges films, The Lady Eve is brilliantly shot (in this case by Victor Milner) and edited, with repeated use of inter-cut, montage shots to maintain the film's hectic pace. Standout scenes include Stanwyck's cleverly shot entrance scene where she observes through her compact mirror Fonda's attempts to ignore the attention (principally from eligible young women) he is generating in the ship's bar, and that where Stanwyck and Fonda are laid out (in riskily close proximity) in Hopsy's cabin as Jean puts on her (not so) subtle seduction routine (requiring Fonda to pull down slightly her overly-revealing hemline). For me, these earlier scenes outshine the latter section of the film which features some overdone slapstick, and where Stanwyck adopts the persona of the English Lady Eve Sidwich (without a noticeable change in accent) in her attempt to ensnare Hopsy again merely to torment him further. Albeit, the scene on the train towards the end of the film where Stanwyck is revealing to her past affairs to Fonda, is brilliant.

The Lady Eve is another brilliantly funny and entertaining film from one of Hollywood's most inspired film-makers of the era, and whilst not quite reaching the heights of the very best films of the genre (e.g. His Girl Friday) is well worth a viewing.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 6 April 2012
This is one hell of a special film, and one of the most enjoyable, original and downright erotic films of its era. (Hollywood still knew how to be genuinely erotic in 1941 - the Hays Code was by then in place with its buckets of cold water, but was administered by people too dense to expunge the more subtle dialogue in such films as this or, say, The Big Sleep.)
I`ve never seen the great Barbara Stanwyck more joyfully sexy or Henry Fonda more guilelessly funny, and, let`s face it, Fonda wasn`t the normal go-to guy for humour.
This is one of Preston Sturges` wittiest but also most touching films. Stanwyck repays the trust her director obviously had in her with a performance of such unforced gutsiness, wit and alluring flirtiness - at least in the first half - that you want to reach through the screen and give her a big kiss. Fonda manages to be her equal, even to the extent of playing a man who can`t see a table without falling over it, but who falls for "Eve" in a big way. We really don`t know if these two will get together until the final moments of this perverse tale of con artists, charming snake fanciers, upper class nobs and society dames.
The plot is hard to summarise, so I won`t even try - and anyway, it is described elsewhere on this page. Suffice it to say it is a `screwball` comedy, so there`s a lot of backchat, sexual innuendo, and misunderstandings.
The great plus is that, as with the Grant/Hepburn comedies of that time, the stars play it straight, without trying to `be funny`. Fonda`s hapless greenness is all too believable, while Stanwyck`s deceitful seducer is played by the lady to perfection. Her performance is so seductive that it`s not only Fonda who is left swooning with desire...
Some of the best comic supports are to be seen in smaller roles, in particular the unique, always pitch-perfect Charles Coburn as Stanwyck`s roguish father, rotund, rust-voiced Eugene Pallette as the rich owner of the mansion where the "second act" is played out, and - joy of joys - on loan from his usual billet at the Astaire/Rogers dance factory, the insinuating, wholly individual, mildly bonkers Eric Blore, in one of his finest and most rewarding roles as the fruity conspirator and friend of "Eve".
All in all, Sturges at his best, Fonda like you`ve rarely seen him before or since, and the sometimes underrated Barbara Stanwyck at her glowing, magnificent peak.
Wonderful.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2007
Ocean cruising has never interested me but if I thought I'd meet someone like the "Lady" Eve on board I'd be on that boat like a shot. Possibly Barabara Stanwyck's most captivating role, it's a delight to watch her pull geeky beer baron Hopsy's (Henry Fonda) strings as she lines him up, reels him in and then charmingly, falls in love with him. This is a role todays female stars would die for: Killer dialog, the opportunity to wind a male star round your finger, and bursting with heart. If only they had the screen power to match Stanwyck. Watch and marvel as she seduces her mark then ruffles his hair and sends him packing from her cabin. Romantic comedy was never better than this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2013
Top of their form and full of subtle twists. Certainly a place in my hot list of films to see again and again.
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